I’ve come to the decision somewhere in my continually busy brain to run the 13.1 miles of a half marathon. I’ve been kicking it around now for quite some time, but never really had the desire to commit to the idea.
Now, however, I feel like I want to do it, and I hope that means I’m ready to do so. I’m a 39 year-old lifelong athlete who, as my competitive days of cleats and bats started to transform themselves into collared shirts and golf clubs, realized that I need a little more drive than simply hitting a small white ball sometimes straight, putting it into a hole, and then riding along to the next hole.
Instead, the goal-oriented side of me that has always pushed me to do more and be better understands that golf won’t do the trick. I require more of a push, something that makes me nervous and gets me to a place outside my comfort zone. I have completed some triathlons, which have given me that feeling, but change is good and now those 13.1 miles seem to represent the next chance.
The problem is, however, that I was never really a distance runner. I was quick, even fast, on the baseball field and the soccer pitch, but I got bored when endurance training came around. I could do it, but I hated it. Basically, running was something I did to get ready for something else. Never did I think I’d consider the idea of running to run. So strange to me then.
But times change, as do we. With age comes not just a physical alteration, but a mental one too. You think differently, and you make decisions about life in an entirely new manner. If my 18 year-old self could meet me now, he’d have some serious questions to ask. You want to compete, but you don’t care if you win? You want to race, but you don’t care about the clock? What’s wrong with you? Where’d you go?
So, the whole process of deciding to do a half marathon has motivated me, intimidated me, and intrigued me. It’s forced me to open my eyes and be more introspective. But most of all, it has made me think about one main ideal.
Why do it? I knew that I had to have a good answer to this question. I couldn’t just hit the road each day because I want a cool sticker to put on my car or to just say I did it. Nope, that external stuff won’t keep me going. Maybe twenty years ago it would have, but not now. Instead, I knew I required an internal reason, one that would make me follow through and push. Without one, it is too easy to skip a training day or to simply change my mind.
For me, the answer came in life itself. Running is a simple pursuit, a simple task that places you alone with you. You depend on no one else, and the mental solitude it enforces holds great potential. We all lead busy lives and can often forget to take time for a quiet peace, a place to recollect and reflect. Sounds a little transcendental and borderline cheesy, but it’s true. Training for a race gives me the goal I need to satisfy who I am and the way I’m wired. But, more importantly, it provides me with a chance to think and re-engage with me.
The training will let me get fit to race and to live. I have no desire to become the skinny, blade-like runners you see on television trotting effortlessly through Central Park during the NYC Marathon. Not at all. It’s not about image or the look. It’s not about winning or beating a time. Those are all motivations of the past for me. They have been replaced by something bigger and all-consuming.
Setting out to run a long distance, one that you never expected yourself to even think about, necessitates that you know why you’re doing it. I’m doing it to ground me, to give me a chance each day to recall what is important in life, to see priorities for what they are. I anticipate the race to be the reward, and I hope the training is what challenges me to keep the world simple and clear.
So, before you decide to give it a go, think about why. Having the answer will likely make the journey much more significant.